Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man accused of buying $102,024 Cadillac Escalade using stolen identity

Terrell Tramone Brown

Terrell Tramone Brown

TAMPA — Some people steal cars. Some steal identities.

Terrell Tramone Brown, 48, did both, using a Texas stranger's good credit and Social Security number last August to buy an SUV from Dimmitt Cadillac in Clearwater, authorities charge.

It was an Escalade valued at $102,024.

The man pictured on the fake driver's license used in the deal was Brown, according to a Secret Service account, but the birth date and other details on the car loan application pertained to victim Craig Woodward.

Woodward's first inkling of trouble came when Bank of America called wanting to know why he kept missing payments.

"I don't think I have a payment with you," he recalls saying. "What car are you talking about?"

Brown, who has a history of convictions for financial crimes, is scheduled to plead guilty June 6 to federal charges.

This wasn't the first time someone had hijacked an identity to snag a car. The FBI broke up an international ring in California in 2014 that shipped the spoils of such crime to Africa: 43 vehicles with a total value of about $500,000.

The luxury Escalade sported a leather interior, cooled front-row seats, heated front- and second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, a reconfigurable gauge display, a 16-speaker Bose surround sound system and an advanced anti-theft system — though not anti-identity theft.

A Dimmit executive declined comment Friday, so it's unclear how many extras were included.

The joy ride ended in Tampa soon after the Escalade rolled into the middle of a state and federal law enforcement stakeout of a phone store on Waters Avenue that was suspected of churning out fake IDs and credit cards.

Brown wasn't arrested that day, but agents took note of him and the vehicle from afar.

That was Feb. 3.

The next day, Secret Service Special Agent Bryan Halliwell obtained a search warrant for the store. It was based on probable cause, he later wrote, that CellTech Mobile owner Johan Martinez Blanco was operating a "counterfeit credit card and fake ID plant."

The store owner has not been federally charged. The U.S. Attorney's Office said the investigation is ongoing.

The Feb. 5 search yielded a credit card embosser, a credit card encoder, a credit card foil tipping machine, counterfeit credit cards and stolen identity documents, including tax and medical records, Halliwell wrote in Brown's criminal complaint.

There was also a blue photographic background mounted on an office wall for counterfeit ID photos, the record states.

The owner knew the Escalade driver only as "Tank," the agent wrote.

But "Tank" had left a photo behind at the phone store when getting a fake driver's license.

Investigators ran his image through a facial recognition database maintained by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and found a match.

There already was a federal warrant — for absconding from probation in South Florida, where he had a 2001 conviction for counterfeiting and uttering forged bills. He has served time in state and federal prisons.

He was arrested in late February on charges relating to the Escalade: access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli ordered Brown held without bail, calling him a flight risk. He is described in Pinellas County jail records as a transient and told Tampa police in 2014 that he lived in West Palm Beach.

Woodward couldn't believe the suspect was still driving the Escalade when caught. He figured it would be long gone.

He was also surprised by the amount of personal information the identity thief had obtained, and puzzled about its source.

"I don't apply for credit in many places," Woodward said.

"This person had my father's address as a reference. He had all my information going back to my business's first address. This is some detailed information. It's not just somebody who got my Social Security number and name."

Senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Patty Ryan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

Man accused of buying $102,024 Cadillac Escalade using stolen identity 05/22/16 [Last modified: Sunday, May 22, 2016 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Head-on crash kills Wesley Chapel teacher and Zephyrhills man

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Two men, including a high school math teacher, were killed Monday in a head-on crash on Morris Bridge Road, deputies said.

    Shackelford
  2. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.
  3. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family

    Editorials

    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …

  4. Lightning: Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and ... whom else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  5. Hillsborough teachers get a hard no on scheduled pay raises

    Blogs

    The Hillsborough County School District cannot afford to advance teachers to their next year's pay levels, employee relations manager Mark West told the union at Monday afternoon's bargaining session.

    This might be the last teacher bargaining session in Hillsborough for awhile. Although the two sides are not officially at an impasse, the district says it cannot pay teachers their scheduled raises.